Phase9 Entertainment

THE INCREDIBLES - Q&A with writer/director Brad Bird

Movie Interview by Neils Hesse

Where did the voice of Edna come from?

Inside I'm actually only 2ft 6, we do temporary voices when we prepare the movies and we also do temporary soundtracks, with the intention of replacing the temporary ones with professional ones. But just as in FINDING NEMO Andrew Stanton did the voice of the groovy turtle I did the voice of Edna Mode it wasn't my intent but it stuck.

Was it easy to describe the voice?

Well when I was explaining the character I explained that I could never visualize the hero all of a sudden sewing a costume so I thought of a small half Japanese half German woman and that's where it came from.

You are new to Pixar how did you bring your idea to them?

When I saw TOY STORY Pixar was still a computer graphics department in Lucasfilm and I loved it. After A BUG'S LIFE they asked me to join them and when I explained my idea they jumped at it.

Who is Edna based on?

She is a lot of people and she is also no one. The movie is a blend of a lot of movies I had seen when I was growing up so it's a mix of people.

The characters seem to resemble the actors is this true?

Well if it strikes us like for instance with Holly Hunter she talks a bit off centre as far as her mouth is concerned so we added that but other times it is bits from other people.

Michael Bird is in the credits any relation?

Yes he is my son and he plays the heartthrob that Violet likes and Jack is the name of my other son so yes nepotism is alive and well.

This film is quite dark and there are some deaths in it how did you pull that one past Disney?

Well Tom Schumacher said that maybe we tone it down a bit or we could chance it and leave it as it is. Personally I like genuine jeopardy in films. People are genuinely aiming to protect kids but to it is also important to show kids that all that bashing around has consequences. I like a bit of bite in storytelling.

Your movie has a sixties James Bond style to it would you like to do a Bond movie?

If I could go back in time yes because for me Sean Connery is James Bond so the case is closed. I was trying for a general style but Bond was the best example and a lot of musicians were doing that kind of stuff so I wanted to recapture that style.

The script possesses a lot of English wit and dark humour where did that come from?

Purely DNA, when I get a roomful of people I would like to see them appreciate it from different perspectives so it was aimed to thrill.

You first had the idea for this 12 years ago so would you say that is close to your original vision?

It is very close, but so many things are broken down and when you first have the idea it can remain as it is when you don't define it. It is depressing because for everything you accomplish you also miss out on something else but then it also starts to get better. It is a whole process that constantly changes.

Are you a frustrated actor?

No I am not. I love film and the arts and the more I work in one the more I get into another as certain rules apply across the board.

What was the toughest hurdle?

There were 10 huge hurdles, amongst them fabric, human characters, hair, water, fire and also length of the film.

It is marketed as a comedy but it is darker, and also the first Pixar movie with human characters taking the lead so have we now reached a point where we can bring comic books to life in true comic book style?

Well there are ideas that can be brought to life because all the crazy ideas can be represented on screen.

Why animation and is your son also going that way?

I started at the age of 3. The very first were sequential stick figures. I loved animated shows and I saw them many times over. At 11 I discovered that there was actually a job out there that could pay me and it made me realize that adults were actually quite clever. I luckily met a guy who had done animation and my dad bought me a single frame camera and I made a short film called 'The Tortoise and the Hare'.

Apparently the original villain is not the one we get to see in the finished product, why?

Well he was a middleman who was a mouthpiece for a very distinguished person who actually ran the show. Then John Lasseter suggested that we start with them just starting to relocate and I originally had Syndro die in the opening sequence but eventually it evolved to what you see now.

The theme about everyone being special therefore no one is, how did you come up with that?

I watch my kids play soccer and I see the kids all get equal prizes and for me I saw that it devalued achievement of those who have actually worked hard for that prize.

Did your past experience working on THE SIMPSONS affect this movie?

I got that job based on the Spielberg job and I loved working with Matt Groening and James L Brooks and it was great to see the film go through the whole development processes. TV requires fast decision making and that helped me on THE IRON GIANT. Also with THE SIMPSONS there is cheap fast animation but a huge amount of concentration on scripts for each episode so he helped me with the development of the script for THE INCREDIBLES.

Are there any sequels planned and the scene in the trailer with the belt was that specially done for the trailer only?

I made a satisfying ending and when you make such an ending they say there's going to be a sequel but no that was not the plan here. The scene with the belt was not cut out of the movie it was actually developed especially for the first teaser trailer.

After this big budget experience do you still intend to go back to small time films?

Well I see myself as a filmmaker so never say never.